Budget 2016 has been a mixed bag overall. The focus on infrastructure, rural development and social sector spending are important catalysts for boosting the economy’s growth rate.
The enhanced expenditures in these priority areas are a step in the right direction, but the measure of their success will be determined by the implementation and execution of their schemes.
On the healthcare front, the budgetary emphasis on the sector was fairly muted. While certain initiatives such as the new health insurance scheme or the National Dialysis Services programme are good, perhaps a more holistic, well-rounded thrust would have served the sector better in delivering good health to those in need of it.
One will also need to wait for the fine print to study just how some of the announcements will ultimately pan out.
For example, the allocation of `1.50 lakh crore for the social sector “including education and health care” will need to be studied as to how much exactly each will get and what areas they will touch.
The opening of 3,000 generic drug stores under the PM’s Jan Aushadhi Yojna will definitely help in expanding access of medicines, provided the details of the implementation takes into account the interest of all stakeholders.
One hopes that the planning and execution of these will be such that they address people in India who really need it, such as those in remote parts of the country. Providing much-needed impetus to foster research and development in India continues to be an area that is missed out on year after year.
This continues to disappoint, as India has the potential of being a global discovery hub and I think we are missing out on a huge opportunity by not incentivising the sector on this front. That said, in my perspective, allocating just about 1.5% of GDP for health is rather inadequate given the dire need for proper healthcare in India.